The summer holidays are a time for adventure, and there’s no better adventure than sleeping under the stars during a camping trip. Camping may not be as comfortable as relaxing in a hotel suite, but if it’s done right it can be a great experience for the kids. Choose a weekend this summer to bring out the tent and get back to nature.
What to Bring
Aside from the basic essentials (a tent, sleeping bags, camping stove, etc), there are a few things you should pack that will really improve the experience. Packing a football is a good idea, as there are various ball games that you can play during the day with the kids. Another good idea is to bring some duvets. If it’s your child’s first time camping, they may not be comfortable in a sleeping bag. Even then, you’ll be glad of the extra warmth if the nights are chilly. Bring along some disposable barbeques, too, for a spot of summery al fresco cooking. Bring some small prizes as well, if you want to organize a treasure hunt.
Kids need to burn off energy, and there are plenty of ways to do that if you’re camping. Hire some bikes for the day and explore forest trails, or hang around the tent and kick the ball around. There are lots of ways to keep children entertained with a ball, so it’s a good idea to read up on ball game ideas before you go.
Sick, Dying, Dead is a fun game to play: even if it doesn’t sound like it would be! Stand in a circle and throw the ball to each other. If you miss the ball once, you have a ‘headache’ and have to keep one hand on your head while you throw and catch with the other hand. If you miss again, you have a ‘tummy ache’ and have to keep one hand on your belly while you catch and throw with the other hand. Miss again and you’re ‘dying’: get down on your knees and throw and catch with both hands. Miss once more and you’re dead! Lie down, you’re out. Last person alive wins.
Another good idea is to organize a treasure hunt. Leave clues around the campsite and get the kids to follow them to the prize. The first team to arrive wins. You can combine this with a bit of orienteering by giving the children a map and compass, and incorporating them into the clues.
On rainy days it’s a bit more difficult, as nobody wants to go out in the rain. It’s still a good idea to keep the holiday active, so instead of going to the cinema or the museum try something like indoor rock climbing or swimming. Before leaving for your trip it’s always a good idea to look online and find out what’s nearby.
It’s always a good idea to bring your own ingredients when you go camping, as you don’t want to ruin the illusion of being back to nature by running to the supermarket every day. Raw meat tends to spoil quicker than cooked meat, so if you are having a barbecue make sure you pack any raw meat in a cool box and that you use it on the first and second nights.
It’s sometimes a good idea to pre-cook meals, too, and heat them up on the camping stove.
Nothing beats cooking al fresco, and these great camp site recipes are perfect for the campfire (or the gas stove, as the case may be). They’re also super easy for little hands to make, so in the evening you can wind the kids down by letting them make their own banana splits, pizzas, and corn on the cob.
What are your favorite things to do on a family camping trip?
Author: Catherine Helsey is a keen outdoors person and regularly enjoys getting away from the city and heading back to nature.
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